Thursday, August 25, 2016

It's (Un) Complicated

“For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.” 2 Cor. 1:12 “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” 2 Cor. 11:3

         Perhaps the greatest theologian and thinker who ever lived, whom God inspired to pen some of His most profound truths, was adamant about the need to never let the profundity of the subject ever blur the simplicity of the message. “My greatest joy,” he says to the Corinthian believers, “is to know that by the grace of God, I’ve lived and ministered among you ‘in simplicity and godly sincerity.’”  And he tells them ten chapters later that if they have at all swerved away from this, it’s because Satan himself has beguiled them. Mark it down: any doctrine or principle that cannot be understood and lived out simply and sincerely did not originate with God. All His workings behind the scene may be unfathomable, but the appropriation need not be. Here, briefly, are three aspects of the Christian life that often are, but never should be, referred to by today’s popular saying: “It’s complicated.”

         SALVATION: Jesus is the only way to Heaven (Acts 4:12); if you have Him, you have life…now and forever (1 John 5:11); you “get” Him by acknowledging who He is, God the Son (John 20:31) and accepting Him as Savior and substitute for your sin (1 Pet. 2:24) and Lord of your life (1Cor. 8:6). Don’t worry about who chose whom; rest assured, if you chose Him, He chose you! Enjoy!

         SIN: What is sin? Well, for sure, according to 1 John 3:4, it’s the transgression of God’s holy Law that He chiseled in stone (Exo. 20), and which Paul reiterated, minus the keeping of the Sabbath. Then, according to James 4:17, there are personal sins (“to him it is sin”) having to do with individual light, which may or may not be true of someone else. All we need to know is that there are universal sins plainly identified in God’s Word and others pointed out to us individually by the Holy Spirit and for which we are accountable, as well. Beyond that, it’s we who muddy the waters, not God.

         SECOND COMING: Should I be looking for or working toward the Second Coming of Jesus Christ? Yes! Whether one holds to the Pre-Millennial view, looking for the world to get worse and worse, or the Post-Millennial one, anticipating a better world, the fact remains, Jesus Christ is coming back to this earth, as He promised (Acts 1:11; 1 Thess. 4:16). The only real question is, has it made a difference in the way I live? If not, how He will return is of little consequence, since, according to 1 John 3:3, I probably don’t really believe it, in the first place. Now, that’s not hard, is it? J The most important thing to remember about the Second Coming is Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh in an hour when ye think not” (Luke 12:40).  (Emphasis added)

         As the old saying goes, “Life isn’t complicated; people are.” Study God’s Word, delve into its inexhaustible depths as much you’re able; but never complicate the important things, the life and death things, and the things that are meant to comfort and assure us in a complicated world. This poor world falls over itself trying to make heads or tails of life, while you and I who know, and are known of, the great Originator of Life are able to speak with “simplicity and godly sincerity.”  Let’s make sure we do it.

“Seeing then we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech.” 2 Cor. 3:12

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

God's Hedge

"Why is light given to a man whose way is hid, and whom God hath hedged in? (Job 3:23)

By the time we get to chapter three, Job has lost everything, including his health. He still retains his wife, but, sadly, she has advised him to "curse God and die." His three "friends" have sat looking at him mournfully now for seven days, without saying a word. Up until this time, the Bible says, he had not “sinned with his lips.” But finally, in the bitterness of his soul, he speaks and curses the day he was born…with great eloquence. "Why even live," he says, "if we're always going to be hedged in by circumstances?" He lumped God's hedge in with all his other miseries.
But he was wrong, for within that hedge of protection was everything good in Job's life.

Does the hedge God has put about you sometimes feel like a prickly bush? As a woman, do you ever feel your role in life is too confining? Does the prospect of not having to answer to anyone seem singularly attractive? (I fear that personal independence is highly over-rated and highly seductive.) I have not always been successful, but I have always tried to assume that God knows what is best for me, and to thank Him for His hedge of protection, no matter what form (pleasant or otherwise) it may take.

Ironically, Satan knew much better than Job what God's hedge really was, especially since it was the only thing that was keeping him at bay. What Job thought to be a curse, Satan knew to be a blessing. Compare his description with Job's:

Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?
Hast thou not made a hedge about him, and about his house, and about all
that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and
his substance is increased in the land (Job 1:10).

What about you? Are you willing to thank God today for the “hedge” He has placed around you?